domingo, diciembre 27, 2009



He was so completely carried away by this idea that everyone should participate in their joy that he went on talking for twenty minutes or more, roaming from one thing to another like a man sitting at the piano and improvising. He hadn’t a doubt in the world that we were all his friends, that we would listen to him in peace until he had had his say. Nothing he said sounded ridiculous, however sentimental his words may have been. He was utterly sincere, utterly genuine, and utterly possessed by the realization that to be happy is the greatest boon on earth. It wasn’t courage which had made him get up and address us, for obviously the thought of getting to his feet and delivering a long extemporaneous speech was much of a surprise to him as it was to us. He was for the moment, and without knowing it, of course, on the way to becoming an evangelist, that curious phenomenon of American life which has never been adequately explained. The men who have been touched by a vision, by an unknown voice, by an irresistible inner prompting – and there have been thousands of them in our country – what must have been the sense of isolation in which they dwelled, and for how long, to suddenly rise up, as if out of a deep trance, and create for themselves a new identity, a new image of the world, a new God, a new heaven? We are accustomed to think of ourselves as a great democratic body, linked by common ties of blood and language, united indissolubly by all the modes of communication which the ingenuity of man can possibly devise; we wear the same clothes, eat the same diet, read the same newspapers, alike in everything but name, weight and numbers; we are the most collectivized people in the world, barring certain primitive peoples whom consider backward in their development. And yet – yet despite all the outward evidences of being close knit, interrelated, neighborly, good-humored, helpful, sympathetic, almost brotherly, we are lonely people, a morbid, crazed herd thrashing about in zealous frenzy, trying to forget that we are not what we think we are, not really united, not really devoted to one another, not really listening, not really anything, just digits shuffled about by some unseen hand in a calculation which doesn’t concern us. Suddenly now and then someone comes awake, comes undone, as it were, from the meaningless glue in which we are stuck – the rigmarole which we call the everyday life and which is not life but a trancelike suspension above a great stream of life – and this person who, because he no longer subscribes to the general pattern, seems to us quite mad finds himself invested with strange and almost terrifying powers, finds that he can wean countless thousands from the fold, cut them loose from their moorings, stand them on their heads, fill them with joy, or madness, make them forsake their own kith and kin, renounce their calling, change their character, their physiognomy, their very soul. And what is the nature of this overpowering seduction, this madness, this “temporary derangement”, as we love to call it? What else if not the hope of finding joy and peace? Every evangelist uses a different language but they are all talking about the same thing. (To stop seeking, to stop struggling, to stop climbing on top of one another, to stop thrashing about in the pursuit of vain and vacillating goals.) In the twinkle of an eye it comes, the great secret which arrests the outer motion, which tranquilizes the spirit, which equilibrates, which brings serenity and poise, and illumines the visage with a steady, quiet flame that never dies. In their efforts to communicate the secret they become a nuisance to us, true. We shun them because we feel that they look upon us condescendingly; we can´t bear to think that we are not the equal of anyone, however superior he may seem to be. But we are not equals; we are mostly inferior, vastly inferior, inferior particularly to those who are quiet and contained, who are simple in their ways, and unshakable in their beliefs. We resent what is steady and anchored, what is impervious to our blandishments, our logic, our collectivized cud of principles, our antiqued forms of allegiance.

Henry Miller